Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Perfectionism: aka "fear of man"

Guest post by Kim Nielsen

So when Zach first asked me to a be guest blogger, I was thinking one post. No big deal; I should be able to think of one thing during the week. After hearing that it would be something every day and also seeing who else was on the blog role (I really do look up to each of these men!), I reconsidered my quick response of "sure" to my husband. I tried to think of all the reasons not to do it:
1. I'll be too busy.
2. I'm am engrossed all day with 4 small children and am more often answering questions like, "what's the tallest mountain?, do you think this is a dinosaur fossil?", "can we have a snack?" than delving into deep theological issues that so often show up on this blog.
3. I'm really quite computer illiterate.
4. And not least of all, I am a perfectionist and it will take me far to long to actually post anything worth while.
As I was thinking through all of my excuses, I realized what I have in the past called "perfectionism", "striving for excellence", "serving within one's giftedness", is often just the ugly head of "fear of man". I am far too concerned with how I will come across, will others approve of me, will I measure up?

We recently finished Ed Welch's book, "When People are Big and God is Small" in our home group. While, it obviously didn't solve my problem with the fear of man, it has at least made me realize how often I struggle with it and remind me where I need to turn my thoughts. So finding myself once again in this familiar place, I thought I would just share the battle with you.

The best way for me to offset fear of man is to concentrate on the All-Surpassing Supremacy of Christ. Here are 2 passages that come to mind that remind me that life is not about me. When I meditate on who Christ actually is, I naturally forget about myself, am freed from my need of others' approval and am left in awe of Him.
1. Philippians 3:7-14
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I count everything loss (even blog posts and the approval of others) compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ!

2. Job 38-42
I love this! God questions Job (and me), "where you there when I laid the foundation of the earth?" "have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?"

When meditating on the greatness of God, I am humbled. But I am also freed of my fear of man. It is not man whom I should fear, but God (who not only has a voice like thunder but also loves me and gave himself for me). I hope that you too can take some time and meditate on Christ's Supremacy. Who knows you may find yourself freed to do something crazy (like guest blogging :))!


Jeff said...

My fear of man is to worry about what people think of me. My dad says "you wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you realized how seldom they do"
What is amazing is how God views me in Christ - I am His special treasure or "segullah" in Hebrew (Dt 26:18). Really, I cannot even comprehend it. The almighty God, Creator of the universe, the eternal One, considers *me*!! His special treasure. How can that be? :) Words fail...

Christopher Lake said...

Thank you for this very helpful post, Kim. One can either fear man or fear God (be awed by Him and have reverence for Him), but one cannot fear both God and man at the same time. Thank God that Christ the Son "feared" the Father (had right regard and reverence for Him) perfectly on our behalf! Knowing that, we are free to pursue God without being consumed with how we look! Thank you for the great reminder to fear God (rightly) and not others!